This time last year Nebraska was 5-6 and looking for that crucial sixth win in Boulder for a bowl game. Fresh off a 73-31 win over Kansas State, the Huskers were confident in their new starter Joe Ganz and hoped to beat fellow 5-6 team Colorado.
However, the Buffaloes finished off the Huskers 65-51, eliminating Nebraska from the postseason and securing their own spot in a bowl. They also gave Nebraska what it needed to finally fire its moronic head coach Bill Callahan.
This year Nebraska is 7-4 and already has their ticket to the postseason punched. Colorado is in the same position it was last year, 5-6 and looking for that crucial sixth win (Friday, Nov. 28 at 2:30c on ABC—watch it!).
Joe Ganz has started a few more games since then and now sits at 14th on the passing efficiency list, completing nearly 69 percent of his passes this season.
The Huskers look to avenge last year's loss in Boulder with a similar season-ending situation in Lincoln to keep Colorado from the postseason.
But last year was certainly not the first time these teams met.
For Nebraska, Colorado is their rival in the North Division and has been all the way back to the good ol' Big 8 days. The actual "rivalry" has only existed since 1982, when Colorado head coach Bill McCartney decided Nebraska and Colorado should be rivals and publicized the game as such.
Nebraska leads the rivalry series 18-6-1 and leads overall 46-18-2 in the teams' meetings.
The most notable meeting of the two teams, in my mind, was in 2001. Nebraska was No. 2 in the country, and No. 14 Colorado was looking to change that. From the start, Colorado dominated Nebraska on both sides of the ball, capitalizing on a phenomenal performance on the ground from running tandem Chris Brown and Bobby Purify, and beat the Huskers 62-36.
The part that probably stings most for Colorado fans is what happens next.
With the win over Nebraska, Colorado clinched the Big 12 North and faced Texas. Colorado avenged a 41-7 loss to the Longhorns in the season with a 39-37 victory and conference championship. Colorado seemed all lined up to face Miami (Fl.) in the national championship game.
Then, in a series of strange (and fortuitous, for me anyway) events, Nebraska jumped ahead of Colorado in the final BCS rankings and went to the national championship instead. Colorado was stuck with a Fiesta Bowl appearance against high-powered Oregon and began complaints (with good reason, of course) against the BCS that still rage in some Buffaloes fans' minds.
I was just sad about losing to Colorado by 26.
Nebraska has the 10th-ranked offense in the country that generally defaults to airing it out, ranking 15th in passing offense. The traditionally great Nebraska rushing game is somewhat dormant as the Huskers rank 37th in rushing offense.
Colorado had a great start this season, beating West Virginia and playing Florida State very competitively in non-conference play. However, since then Colorado (particularly their offense) has seemed to sputter out. Colorado was shut out by Missouri earlier this season and is averaging under 20 points per game.
But whatever you do, don't discount Colorado in this game. The team that played well at the beginning of the year has shown up a few times since then, playing Oklahoma State tough in the Buffs' previous game, and could very well show up ready to play Friday.
Nebraska will win if...
They continue to play consistently.
Nebraska has no trouble scoring the ball, powered by the potent passing game that has them ranked 18th in scoring offense.
The running game has seen some success lately on the back of sophomore running back Roy Helu Jr., who finally got the nod over senior Marlon Lucky. Lucky had provided lackluster performances all season, and as Helu started to see more carries, it became apparent to the coaching staff that a change had to be made.
With 30 fewer carries than Lucky, Helu has 121 more yards and the same number of touchdowns while averaging 2.5 yards per carry better.
Obviously senior day in Memorial Stadium should have some grand performances from Nebraska's seniors as Ganz gets the ball to fellow seniors Nate Swift and Todd Peterson.
They play solid defense.
Nebraska's "Blackshirt" defense have been awarded their blackshirts again, and for good reason. The defense has proven it is a much better animal than last year's defense that allowed program-record numbers week in and week out.
The Blackshirts should have little problem stifling Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins, who has only completed 57 percent of his passes, and the Buffaloes offense, ranked 89th in total yards.
Nebraska will lose if...
The rumors floating around that Ganz has tweaked his shoulder are true.
Husker fans know all too well how Ganz plays when he's not comfortable. If Nebraska's offensive field general really is hurt, he'll make poor decisions and bad throws like he has when he's been rattled (anyone watch the first half of this year's Oklahoma game?).
If Nebraska's offensive line can't stop Colorado from getting in the backfield and messing with Ganz's head (not to mention putting him on the turf), he will implode, and so will Nebraska's chances of winning.
Nebraska allows Colorado to get into a rhythm.
The Buffs have every ability to play great football. Colorado is a very talented team that has a very smart coach in Dan Hawkins. And let's not forget that Colorado hates Nebraska.
The Buffaloes will come ready to play, and if Nebraska's defense can't disrupt Colorado's offense, Cody Hawkins will pick them apart and the Buffaloes' running backs could have a performance similar to the beatdown in 2001.
It's a home game for Nebraska.
The Huskers are 5-2 at home with losses to Virginia Tech and Missouri. Memorial Stadium is always a tough place to play, and opposing teams have to worry about the crowd noise.
Colorado is 0-4 on the road this year, but two of those losses came to top-12 teams.
If the Sea of Red is out in full force and makes some noise, it could be a volatile situation for the visiting Buffaloes.
Though I worry the Buffaloes will bring a strong attitude into Friday's game and play excellent football, I believe Nebraska will stay consistent and avenge last year's season-ending loss by handing Colorado one. Joe Ganz will top off a record-setting season with an impressive aerial display, and Memorial Stadium will bid fond farewells to our seniors with a win.
NEBRASKA 38, COLORADO 17.
For a Buffalo's take on the game, please read Chaz Mattson's side of the story. Chaz is a talented writer and a dedicated Colorado fan with thoughts aplenty on why his Buffaloes could grab a victory in Lincoln Friday.